Daniel R. Muhs

Daniel R. Muhs
United States Geological Survey | USGS · Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center

Ph.D., University of Colorado

About

201
Publications
105,597
Reads
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11,583
Citations
Additional affiliations
November 1983 - present
United States Geological Survey
Position
  • Research Geologist
Education
September 1976 - August 1980
University of Colorado Boulder
Field of study
  • Physical geography/Quaternary geology

Publications

Publications (201)
Article
Full-text available
The primary last interglacial, marine isotope substage (MIS) 5e records on the Pacific coast of North America, from Washington (USA) to Baja California Sur (Mexico), are found in the deposits of erosional marine terraces. Warmer coasts along the southern Golfo de California host both erosional marine terraces and constructional coral reef terraces....
Preprint
Full-text available
The primary last interglacial, marine isotope substage (MIS) 5e records on the Pacific Coast of North America, from Washington (USA) to Baja California Sur (Mexico), are found in the deposits of erosional marine terraces. Warmer coasts along the southern Golfo de California host both erosional marine terraces and constructional coral reef terraces....
Article
Africa is the most important source of dust in the world today and dust storms from that continent frequently deposit sediment on the nearby Canary Islands. Many investigators have inferred African dust inputs to Canary Islands paleosols based only on the presence of quartz. However, some local rocks do contain this mineral, so quartz alone is insu...
Article
Glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models hypothesize that along coastal California, last interglacial (LIG, broadly from ~130 to ~115 ka) sea level could have been as high as +12 m to +14 m, relative to present, substantially higher than the commonly estimated elevation of +6 m. Areas with low uplift rates can test whether such models are valid. M...
Article
Part of the spatial variation in the apparent sea-level record of the last interglacial (LIG) period is due to the diverse response of coastlines to glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) processes, particularly where coastlines were close to the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the past two glacial periods. We tested modeled LIG paleo-sea levels on New Pro...
Chapter
The origin and nature of eolian (wind-blown) sediments are reviewed, with an emphasis on the occurrence of these features in the Quaternary. Eolian sediments consist of windblown sand, loess, and long-range-transported (LRT) dust, in order of decreasing particle size. Eolian sand forms some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world, particularly...
Article
In 1979, S. Uyeda and H. Kanamori proposed a tectonic model with two end members of a subduction-boundary continuum: the “Chilean” type (shallow dip of the subducting plate, great thrust events, compression, and uplift of the overriding plate) and a “Mariana” type (steep dip of the subducting plate, no great thrust events, tension, and no uplift)....
Article
The Sahara is the largest warm desert in the world, but its age has been controversial, with estimates ranging from Miocene to Holocene. Mineralogical and geochemical data show that paleosols of Pliocene to mid- Pleistocene age on Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands have developed in part from inputs of dust from Africa. These pale...
Article
Full-text available
The Nebraska Sand Hills region is the largest dune field in North America and has diverse aeolian landforms. It has been active during both the late Pleistocene and late Holocene. Despite decades of study, the source of sediment for this large sand sea is still controversial. Here we report new trace element compositions of aeolian sand that are co...
Article
Full-text available
Marine terraces are common on the Pacific Coast of North America and record interglacial high-sea stands superimposed on either stable or tectonically rising crustal blocks. Despite many years of study of these landforms in southern California, little work on terraces has been conducted on the two smallest of the California Channel Islands, Santa B...
Article
Full-text available
Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell was a naturalist at the University of Colorado from 1904 to 1947 and studied botany, zoology, and paleontology in North and South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Europe. In the latter part of his career, he studied the California islands and published many papers on their natural history, 16 of them in four years...
Article
Full-text available
Loess is widespread over Alaska, and its accumulation has traditionally been associated with glacial periods. Surprisingly, loess deposits securely dated to the last glacial period are rare in Alaska, and paleowind reconstructions for this time period are limited to inferences from dune orientations. We report a rare occurrence of loess deposits da...
Article
Full-text available
The tectonic setting of the North America-Caribbean plate boundary has been studied intensively, but some aspects are still poorly understood, particularly along the Oriente fault zone. Guantanamo Bay, southern Cuba, is considered to be on a coastline that is under a transpressive tectonic regime along this zone, and is hypothesized to have a low u...
Article
Full-text available
Along most of the Pacific Coast of North America, sand dunes are dominantly silicate-rich. On the California Channel Islands, however, dunes are carbonate-rich, due to high productivity offshore and a lack of dilution by silicate minerals. Older sands on the Channel Islands contain enough carbonate to be cemented into aeolianite. Several generation...
Article
Full-text available
Although uranium series (U-series) ages of growth-position fossil corals are important to Quaternary sea-level history, coral clast reworking from storms can yield ages on a terrace dating to more than one high-sea stand, confounding interpretations of sea-level history. On northern Barbados, U-series ages corals from a thick storm deposit are not...
Article
Full-text available
Dune fields of Quaternary age occupy large areas of the world's arid and semiarid regions. Despite this, there has been surprisingly little work done on understanding dune sediment provenance, in part because many techniques are time-consuming, prone to operator error, experimental, highly specialized, expensive, or require sophisticated instrument...
Article
The Kelso Dune field in southern California is intriguing because although it is of limited areal extent (~ 100 km²), it has a wide variety of dune forms and contains many active dunes (~ 40 km²), which is unusual in the Mojave Desert. Studies over the past eight decades have concluded that the dunes are derived primarily from a single source, Moja...
Article
Quaternary vertebrate fossils, most notably mammoth remains, are relatively common on the northern Channel Islands of California. Well-preserved cranial, dental, and appendicular elements of Mammuthus exilis (pygmy mammoth) and Mammuthus columbi (Columbian mammoth) have been recovered from hundreds of localities on the islands during the past half-...
Article
Full-text available
Loess is a widespread Quaternary deposit in Alaska and loess accretion occurs today in some regions, such as the Matanuska Valley. The source of loess in the Matanuska Valley has been debated for more than seven decades, with the Knik River and the Matanuska River, both to the east, being the leading candidates and the Susitna River, to the west, a...
Conference Paper
Along coastal California, sand dunes are dominantly silicate-rich. On the Channel Islands, however, dunes are carbonate-rich, due to high productivity offshore and a lack of dilution by silicates. San Miguel Island, the westernmost island, contains well-preserved records of late Quaternary eolian sand deposition. Detailed stratigraphic studies, inc...
Conference Paper
Understanding patterns of seasonality during the last interglacial (80-130 ka), the last time in Earth history that temperatures were at least as warm as today, may help us predict ecosystem responses in an anthropogenically warmed world. Marine terraces from San Nicholas Island, located in the Channel Islands of the Southern California Bight, cont...
Conference Paper
It is well known that African dust is transported seasonally to the Atlantic Ocean at present. What is less certain is how long this process has been going on and whether multiple dust sources in Africa can be identified. On the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, we studied sections of carbonate-rich dune sand (carbonate sand=70-95%; basa...
Conference Paper
S. Uyeda and H. Kanamori (1979, JGR 84, 1049-1061) proposed a tectonic model with two end members of a subduction-boundary continuum: the “Chilean” type (shallow dip of the subducting plate, great thrust earthquake events, as well as compression and uplift of the overriding plate) and a “Mariana” type (steep dip of the subducting plate, no great th...
Article
Terrestrial gastropods are one of the most successful groups of organisms on Earth. Their distribution includes all continents except Antarctica, and they occupy exceptionally diverse habitats, from marshes and wet meadows to alpine forests and Arctic tundra. Their shells are also commonly preserved in Quaternary deposits and potentially could be u...
Article
Full-text available
Fossils of Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) and pygmy mammoths (Mammuthus exilis) have been reported from Channel Islands National Park, California. Most date to the last glacial period (Marine Isotope Stage [MIS] 2), but a tusk of M. exilis (or immature M. columbi) was found in the lowest marine terrace of Santa Rosa Island. Uranium-series d...
Article
Sea-level rise during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene inundated nearshore areas in many parts of the world, producing drastic changes in local ecosystems and obscuring significant portions of the archeological record. Although global forces are at play, the effects of sea-level rise are highly localized due to variability in glacial isostat...
Article
Full-text available
In North America, terrestrial records of biodiversity and climate change that span Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 are rare. Where found, they provide insight into how the coupling of the ocean-atmosphere system is manifested in biotic and environmental records and how the biosphere responds to climate change. In 2010-2011, construction at Zieg...
Article
Full-text available
The Pacific Rim is a region where tectonic processes play a significant role in coastal landscape evolution. Coastal California, on the eastern margin of the Pacific Rim, is very active tectonically and geomorphic expressions of this include uplifted marine terraces. There have been, however, conflicting estimates of the rate of late Quaternary upl...
Chapter
Full-text available
Aeolian mineral dust is an important component of the Earth's envi-ronmental systems, playing roles in the planetary radiation balance, as a source of fertilizer for biota in both terrestrial and marine realms and as an archive for understanding atmospheric circulation and paleoclimate in the geologic past. Crucial to understanding all of these rol...
Chapter
Full-text available
Loess is aeolian sediment, dominated by silt-sized particles, that is identifiable in the field as a distinct sedimentary body. It covers a significant portion of the land surface of the Earth and as such constitutes one of the most important archives of long-term dust deposition. Large tracts of loess cover Europe, Asia, South America, and North A...
Article
Full-text available
Historical ecology is becoming an important focus in conservation biology and offers a promising tool to help guide ecosystem management. Here, we integrate data from multiple disciplines to illuminate the past, present, and future of biodiversity on California's Channel Islands, an archipelago that has undergone a wide range of land-use and ecolog...
Article
The geologic setting of the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site is somewhat unusual — the sediments containing the Pleistocene fossils were deposited in a lake on top of a ridge. The lake basin was formed near Snowmass Village, Colorado when a glacier flowing down Snowmass Creek Valley became thick enough to overtop a low point in the eastern valley wall...
Article
We present the first U-series ages of corals from emergent marine deposits on the Canary Islands. Deposits at + 20 m are 481 ± 39 ka, possibly correlative to marine isotope stage (or MIS) 11, while those at + 12 and + 8 m are 120.5 ± 0.8 ka and 130.2 ± 0.8 ka, respectively, correlative to MIS 5.5. The age, elevations, and uplift rates derived from...
Chapter
Full-text available
Loess is aeolian sediment, dominated by silt-sized particles, that is identifiable in the field as a distinct sedimentary body. It covers a significant portion of the land surface of the Earth and as such constitutes one of the most important archives of long-term dust deposition. Large tracts of loess cover Europe, Asia, South America, and North A...
Article
Full-text available
charcoal is relatively common in the Quaternary record on the California Channel Islands. Previous researchers have found charcoal in paleosols, eolian and alluvial sequences, and sediment cores dating to the late Pleistocene and Holocene on Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Cruz islands, among others (Orr 1968, Johnson 1977, Cole and Liu 1994, And...
Article
Full-text available
Over a span of 50 years, native Californian Donald Lee Johnson made a number of memorable contributions to our understanding of the California Channel Islands. Among these are (1) recognizing that carbonate dunes, often cemented into eolianite and derived from offshore shelf sediments during lowered sea level, are markers of glacial periods on the...
Article
Full-text available
Marine invertebrate faunas with mixtures of extralimital southern and extralimital northern faunal elements, called thermally anomalous faunas, have been recognized for more than a century in the Quaternary marine terrace record of the Pacific Coast of North America. Although many mechanisms have been proposed to explain this phenome-non, no single...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how early humans on the California Channel Islands might have changed local fire regimes requires a baseline knowledge of the frequency of natural wildfires on the islands prior to human occupation. A sedimentary sequence that was recently discovered in a small canyon on San Nicolas Island contains evidence of at least 24 burn events...
Article
Full-text available
Santa Rosa Island (SRI) is the second-largest of the California Channel Islands. It is one of 4 east—west aligned islands forming the northern Channel Islands chain, and one of the 5 islands in Channel Islands National Park. The landforms, and collections of landforms called landscapes, of Santa Rosa Island have been created by tectonic uplift and...
Article
Geologic archives show that the Earth was dustier during the last glacial period. One model suggests that increased gustiness (stronger, more frequent winds) enhanced dustiness. We tested this at Loveland, Iowa, one of the thickest deposits of last-glacial-age (Peoria) loess in the world. Based on K/Rb and Ba/Rb, loess was derived not only from gla...
Data
Geochemical evidence for African dust inputs to soils of western Atlantic islands: Barbados, the Bahamas, and Florida We studied soils on high-purity limestones of Quaternary age on the western Atlantic Ocean islands of Barbados, the Florida Keys, and the Bahamas. Potential soil parent materials in this region, external to the carbonate substrate,...
Article
Study of geologic records of dust composition, sources and deposition rates is important for understanding the role of dust in the overall planetary radiation balance, fertilization of organisms in the world’s oceans, nutrient additions to the terrestrial biosphere and soils, and for paleoclimatic reconstructions. Both glacial and non-glacial proce...
Article
Full-text available
The threshold concept has been applied with considerable success to the understanding of geomorphic systems. Both intrinsic and extrinsic thresholds can be recognized in soil systems, but intrinsic thresholds have previously been largely ignored. Examples of intrinsic thresholds in soils include minimum levels of sesquioxides for immobilization of...
Article
Full-text available
Loess is aeolian silt visible in the field as a sedimentary body. It covers a significant portion of the land surface of the Earth. Loess thickness, particle size, and carbonate content decrease downwind from sources, useful trends for paleowinds. Many loess sections consist of relatively thick deposits of mostly unaltered sediment with intercalate...
Article
Full-text available
A cache feature salvaged from an eroding sea cliff on San Nicolas Island produced two redwood boxes containing more than 200 artifacts of Nicoleño, Native Alaskan, and Euro-American origin. Outside the boxes were four asphaltum-coated baskets, abalone shells, a sandstone dish, and a hafted stone knife. The boxes, made from split redwood planks, con...
Article
Full-text available
Loess is an eolian (windblown) sediment that is an important archive of Quaternary climate changes. It may provide one of the most complete terrestrial records of interglacial-glacial cycles. Loess is unusual as a record of Quaternary climate change because it is one of the few sediments that is deposited directly from the atmosphere. Thus, it is a...
Chapter
Large dune fields, or sand seas, are landscapes often thought to be found only in deserts beneath the great, subtropical high-pressure zones, where subsiding air suppresses rainfall. Dune fields are also quite common in mid-latitude regions, to the north and south of subtropical deserts. Two major characteristics distinguish many mid-latitude dune...
Chapter
Full-text available
North America preserves important Quaternary loess deposits, the most significant and areally extensive deposits being located in the midcontinent, the Pacific northwestern United States, and Alaska and the neighboring Yukon Territory. The loess deposits in each region are very different, reflecting different controlling mechanisms both between and...
Article
Full-text available
The California Channel Islands contain some of the best geologic records of past climate and sea-level changes, recorded in uplifted, fossil-bearing marine terrace deposits. Among the eight California Channel Islands and the nearby Palos Verdes Hills, only Santa Catalina Island does not exhibit prominent emergent marine terraces, though the same te...